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Learning English - Words in the News
29 April, 2005 - Published 12:09 GMT
UN diamond investigation in Liberia
Trucks in a diamond mine
Trucks in a mine, seen from the air

The UN are investigating diamond mining in Liberia and the possibility that diamonds are being exported illegally, because they think the profits are used to buy weapons. This report from World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle:

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I flew at a height of about two hundred feet, almost brushing the top of the jungle canopy, in search of diamond mines. Although exploring for diamonds is not technically illegal here, UN investigators have concerns that Liberian diamonds may be exported in violation of a Security Council ban aimed at stopping gemstone revenue being used to purchase weapons.

The UN investigator I flew with, Caspar Fithen, identified several active mines. Some were small-scale, not much more than holes by the sides of rivers. But other mines were much larger operations. At these, we saw mining pits, mechanical diggers and dozens of miners. Some of the miners tried to hide when they saw the white UN plane we were in; others looked unconcerned. For legal reasons, I can't say exactly where these large-scale diggings were.

Mr Fithen concluded from the aerial survey that more mining activity was taking place in Liberia than during his last over-flight three months ago. He estimated that Liberia was now producing over four hundred thousand US dollars worth of diamonds per month. Although it's almost impossible to say how many diamonds may be being exported from Liberia, industry sources say it is most unlikely that mining companies would invest in expensive mines unless they intended to sell the stones.

Mark Doyle, Liberia

Listen to the words

the jungle canopy
the top of the trees in the jungle which is so thick it acts as a roof or covering; jungle - tropical forest

in violation of
not following the rules of

gemstone revenue
money that is made from selling precious stones like diamonds

larger operations
bigger areas of activity, more like a business

dozens of
a dozen means 12, dozens of is used to describe approximate numbers of something

aerial survey
a view from the air (from an aeroplane) to look for something

the action of flying over an area

industry sources
people who work in the inudstry or business, and who tell people something

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